09/21/2004, 00.00
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China's crude oil imports jump more than 37 percent

Shangai (AsiaNews/AP) _ China's crude oil imports jumped 37.4 percent in August from the same month a year earlier to 9.33 million metric tons (70 million barrels), the government reported Tuesday. The increase, equivalent to an average of 2.21 million barrels a day, brought the country's crude imports for the first eight months of this year to nearly 80 million tons (600 million barrels)  - a 39.2 percent jump from the same period last year, the General Administration of Customs said. China, Asia's largest oil consumer, is the world's fastest growing energy market.

Imports aren't expected to slow despite a decision by Russian oil giant Yukos to halt some exports to state-run China National Petroleum Co. (CNPC), cutting off 60 percent of its crude supply to China. Yukos also supplies crude oil to another state-owned firm, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec. A CNPC executive said Monday that his company was negotiating with Yukos for a resumption of shipments. Russian producers supplied a total of 831,787 tons of crude oil to China in August, or 6.84 million tons in the January-August period, the report said.

Oman leads a long list of crude suppliers to the country, selling 1.54 million tons in August and 11.23 million tons for the eight-month period, followed by Middle East giants Saudi Arabia and Iran, the data showed. Despite its voracious appetite, China's crude oil exports rose in August by 19.7 percent to 412,598 tons, or about 97,600 barrels a day. China exports mainly heavier, low-sulfur crude, mostly to South Korea and Indonesia, for either refining into fuel oil or burning directly at power plants to generate electricity.

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